Axl Rose, back with Guns N' Roses, to front AC/DC

INDIO, CALIFORNIA • Axl Rose brought a reunited Guns N' Roses to the Coachella festival last Saturday as he was announced as the new frontman of an even older hard rock group - AC/DC.

In one of rock's most long- discussed reunions, Rose appeared on the festival stage in the California desert with guitarist Slash, who, until this month, had not performed with his former bandmate since 1993. In a noticeable break from the past, the band opened its Coachella set on time.

Yet, Rose, on his day of triumph projected an awkward image: a recent injury confined him to a chair, with his leg in a cast. The singer, famous for his emotional intensity, moved agitatedly in a kind of seated dancing.

Hours before that performance, AC/DC - the Australian group that was among Guns N' Roses' influences - named Rose as their new singer. Last month, AC/DC broke off a North American tour after saying their singer Brian Johnson, 68, risked permanent loss of hearing if he kept performing with the notoriously loud band.

The band said Rose would front AC/DC on a 12-show European leg from May 7 in Lisbon. Rose, who shares Johnson's high pitch but enjoys a much more diverse vocal range, will then return to North America for the arena tour of the reformed Guns N' Roses, with the 10 postponed AC/DC dates in the United States to be rescheduled later. AC/DC kept open whether Rose would stay permanently.

"AC/DC band members would like to thank Brian Johnson for his contributions and dedication to the band throughout the years," the band said in a statement. "We wish him all the best with his hearing issues and future ventures. As much as we want this tour to end as it started, we understand, respect and support Brian's decision to stop touring and save his hearing," it said.

Johnson, however, has been quiet in public and has reportedly voiced dismay at his swift exit.

US comedian and radio host Jim Breuer said he spoke to Johnson, who felt "kicked to the kerb" by his bandmates and did not believe his hearing problems were as serious as announced by the group.

Johnson was not an original member of AC/DC, joining after singer Bon Scott died in 1980. The loss of Johnson is the latest major change for AC/DC. Malcolm Young, the rhythm guitarist and brother of co-founder Angus, retired in 2014 as he has dementia.

Drummer Phil Rudd was pushed out after he was arrested on charges of ordering a murder in New Zealand, where he lives.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2016, with the headline 'Axl Rose, back with Guns N' Roses, to front AC/DC'. Subscribe